Jun 27 Mon 6.30pm New America – Getting Government Secrets with Stephen Engelberg, Rebecca Williams, Brett Max Kaufman, Sarah Cohen, Talia Buford

Clearly government and business entities are as reluctant as ever to confess their sins or even let the public know anything about their inner workings unless forced to with a FOIA enquiry, judging from this panel of practiced nosey parkers, who report the usual long delays and key excisions in what they are able to force from the dead hands of bureaucracy and private entities, but there were useful tips such as a $200 lawsuit has a surprising acceleration effect.

Detecting secrets buried in data  - Sara Cohen leads the way at the Times

Detecting secrets buried in data – Sara Cohen leads the way at the Times

Access Granted:
How To Get Government Secrets

This upcoming Independence Day marks the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), but has its impact lived up to its promise?
FOIA is a federal law that opens up government data and documents. Yet even as large unofficial data releases, like the Edward Snowden leaks and the Panama Papers, have become a part of the journalism landscape, getting information from government agencies can be alarmingly difficult for reporters. The Obama administration promised to be the “most transparent” in history, but journalists have increasingly faced denied requests, long delays, heavily redacted documents, and other frustrations with the FOIA process.

But despite all its obstacles, it’s undeniable FOIA remains one of the most important tools in the investigator’s toolbox. As Congress passes the first major overhaul of the FOIA law in nearly a decade, what will the next 50 years of government information look like?

Join New America and ProPublica for a conversation with journalists, attorneys, and former public servants to discuss the law’s successes and failures, how it can hold the powerful more accountable, and how to get FOIA administrators to reinstate its mission as the research and transparency tool it should be.


Stephen Engelberg @SteveEngelberg
Editor in Chief, ProPublica
Editor in Chief, ProPublica; Former NYT investigative chief, ME Oregonian,reporter covering CIA, immigration, germ weapons.Constantly seeking stories.

Rebecca Williams @internetrebecca
Senior Implementation Advisor, Center for Government Excellence at Johns Hopkins University
There are a lot of Rebeccas, but then there is this one, then there is this one. Senior Implementation Advisor @Gov_Ex. Co-organize @DCLegalHackers.

Brett Max Kaufman @brettmaxkaufman
Staff Attorney, Center for Democracy, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
staff attorney, aclu / adjunct, nyu technology law & policy clinic / clapper-qualified agoniste

Sarah Cohen @sarahcnyt
Editor, Computer-Assisted Reporting, The New York Times
President, Board of Directors, Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE)
I run a team of data journalists at the New York Times who specialize in investigative reporting and enterprise stories. The team has worked on stories including campaign finance, justice issues, health care and immigration. I’ve also worked as a reporter, writer and editor for newspapers in Florida and The Washington Post. In my spare time, I teach in the Stabile investigative reporting program at Columbia University and am serving as the president of Investigative Reporters and Editors, a 5,000-member professional education association for journalists.

Talia Buford @taliabuford
Reporter, The Center for Public Integrity
I’m a labor reporter at The Center for Public Integrity, a non-profit investigative journalism organization. I cover any and everything in the world of work — from worker safety and rights, to unions, the Labor Department and the million things in between. I also write about some environmental issues. Got a tip or a story that would benefit from a deep investigation? Find me at 202-481-1201 and tbuford@publicintegrity(dot)org.

Access Granted: How To Get Government Secrets
Monday, June 27, 2016
6:30 PM – 8:00 PM EST
156 Fifth Avenue, Second Floor
New York, NY 10010

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